Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Korean Lhotse Team Prepares For Summit Push

While only one team remains on an 8000-meter peak in the Himalaya this fall, the season isn't quite over yet. The Korean squad on Lhotse continues to battle poor weather, and unstable conditions, in an attempt to reach the summit on that mountain. The clock is ticking however, and after nearly two months in the Himalaya, time is starting to run out. With that in mind, the team is in the final stages of their preparation, with the hopes of summit bid to come.

Information on the team's current status has been hard to come by in recent days, but according to ExWeb, the Korean climbers set off up the mountain once again today with the hopes of establishing Camp 4 at 8200 meters (26,902 ft). This will be their final camp on the mountain, and will serve as their launching pad for the summit. It is unclear whether or not they'll attempt to go straight to the top, or will instead descend back to Base Camp, and wait for a proper weather window.

Considering the length of time they have been on the mountain (they arrived in the first week of September), and the patience that they have shown thus far, it seems likely that they will wait for the proper window to allow themselves the best opportunity of topping out. That said, temperatures have begun to drop across the region, and Lhotse has reportedly gotten much colder following the recent blizzard brought on by cyclone Hudhud.

Avalanches remain a concern as well, as they have all season long. The team has already faced several significant slides, and have been extremely careful in their approach so far. They could find even more unstable snow as they move up above C4.

Meanwhile, Canadian climbers Jason Kruk and Ian Welsted are still in the Himalaya as well, and attempting to summit Nuptse, the 7861 meter (25,791 ft) peak located in the Khumbu Valley, not far from Everest itself. A few days back, Kruk posted to his Facebook page that they duo were taking one last crack at the summit along the South Face before they pack up camp and head home. If everything is going according to plan, they should top out sometime over the next few days, but we'll have to wait for a new dispatch to report on their success.

The fall climbing season is nearly over, and in a few days, I'm sure we'll be wrapping up the last of these reports. It has been a strange autumn in the Himalaya to say the least, but there were some good success stories, most notably on Manaslu and Cho Oyu. Hopefully we'll have a few more summits to add to the list by this weekend. Stay tuned.

Update: In other Himalayan news, climbers Mick Fowler and Paul Ramadan have completed a new route along the Northeast Face of Hagshu, a 6515 meter (21,374 ft) peak in the Indian Himalaya. The mountain had been previously climbed back in 1989, but despite several attempts, has remained unclimbed ever since. 

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